Monday, September 10, 2007

Bob Toledo- Welcome to Football at Tulane.

Sigh... here we go again. Bob Toledo- Welcome to football at Tulane!

Well, any loss is disappointing- even to Tulane fans inured, maybe even habituated, to this sort of thing. But as I wrote in my preview below, even if you had Tulane at seven-eight wins, this is one you probably had in the “probable loss” bucket. For Tulane, this season really isn’t about September. Short of losing to Southeastern, the goal is to survive until the Army game, win it, and take dead aim on the seven conference games that conclude the slate. This loss does little to change that.

As to the game itself, I don’t understand the unhappiness with young Scott Elliott from some circles. Mississippi State may be a bad football team- but their defense is not the reason. There are enough athletes over there to be a solid, middle of the road, I-A defense (and Tulane won’t see that but four times this year)- a defense that further really controlled teams like Mississippi, Alabama- and semi-controlled Arkansas, the latter half of last year.

In his first start, the quarterback completed 58% of his passes (good). He generated 200 yards in a mere 27 snaps (very good). If he averages but one pick per 26 throws all season, well, who wouldn’t sign for that now? And he only took one sack!- which you know has been a real problem around here for like, well, forever.

Yes, he didn’t throw the ball downfield effectively- but one thing at a time. Frankly, due to Forte’s day, how many down-and-distance situations did the quarterback really have to hazard shots downfield? With a rookie qb, I doubt coach wanted him looking down the field against the nickel/dime all the time at 3rd and 10? Tulane wants him looking at 2nd and 4 without all those extra DBs gamboling around- more favorable situations for success. And that wasn’t Tulane Saturday.

Bottom line, if he completes 60% of his passes with one turnover/one sack against, say Rice and Army, he is doing more than enough to help this team win as a first year quarterback. Frankly, Lester didn’t do that, do enough to help the team win say eight Saturdays, as a senior!

Matt Forte. Look, I don’t today want to rehash whether Forte is an elite C-USA player (ed.- he’s not!). And Matt simply isn’t a fumbler- so he’ll get that cleaned up. I think, however, we can all agree our worst play can’t be the one where Tulane “hands the football to Matt”. As to the offensive line- well, I will gently point out that Tulane allowed one sack, and averaged around seven yards a snap when Matt was not handed said ball (which is pretty darn good)- so someone was blocking and executing pretty well against a competent I-A defense. I know the “o” tailed off measurably in the second half- but that was more a function of indifferent/poor field position, not having the ball much, and playing from behind.

With Elliot not taking sacks, completing passes, protecting the ball, I was heartened to see the coach let the kid play. Who would have thought we’d have more passes than rushes? Wasn’t it a little fun to watch the kid grow a little, take his lumps and keep chucking? Letting the kid play now will pay dividends in the second half of the season. If Scott keeps completing 60% of his balls- work in some modest downfield success- and keep protecting the ball- teams won’t be able to play us one dimensional for long.

Lastly, and seriously, didn’t the punter look like he had real promise? Good leg, smooth.

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